My Advice To A Creator Who Wants To Build A Creative Content Business

How to improve Facebook engagement, manage DMs, and sell on Instagram.

Hannah Lee Jones wants to grow a long-term creative content business.

She currently has a “very small but devoted following” of 1,100 followers— primarily on Instagram — with whom she shares advice about nomadism, living a life of freedom, and what that looks like in an age of COVID.

Following are three questions she asked me and the advice I gave her…

Hannah’s Question About Facebook Engagement Strategy

“I’ve been struggling a little bit with Facebook in terms of engagement. 

When I share a post to a group for instance, I get very few people responding or engaging and I suspect it has something to do with the fact that I’m not engaging a lot with their content.

I wonder if that would be the case or if there’s more to it than that?

What’s the best way to engage with these communities on Facebook in a way that is organic and helps you to grow your following for your own page? 

Because I don’t have my own group, but I do have a page and I would love to keep growing the page.”

My Response:

I’ve got a couple different thoughts for you here since there are a few different elements regarding Facebook.

First, these days it’s extremely hard to get organic engagement on your Facebook page and it may not be worth putting time/effort into.

The algorithm holds back most content from pages — unless you pay to promote it — so you’re always only going to reach a small segment of your following there.

Your best chance is to post things that will generate as many comments as possible because the more engagement you get, the more people will see it.

But ultimately, you’re probably better off focusing your efforts on another platform like Instagram.

Facebook groups on the other hand can still be incredibly powerful.

There are two ways to use them:

If you’re going to join other existing groups, the key is to become an active member of the group and provide value to people in it — not just promote your own stuff.

Look for opportunities to comment on other people’s posts and provide value that way as opposed to just promoting your own stuff in posts (which won’t work until you’ve established yourself within the group as an actual member of the community).

View the groups as a way to connect with other individuals and build relationships — as you do that, people will be curious about you and discover what you do and you’ll grow your audience that way without really needing to be self-promotional in that way.

Launching your own group can be more work, but also deliver more opportunities over time.

If you decide to do that, you should make the group about the generic version of your target audience — for example, a group for Nomads or something like that as opposed to a group based on your brand name.

The goal of the group is to give those people a place to connect with each other — and you happen to be at the middle of it as host so you benefit from it as well.

On a side note, I find most creators overextend themselves with social media and feel like they have to be everywhere.

In most cases, you’ll be better served to focus your energy on a single platform and grow there.

There are more than enough people using Instagram for you to build a huge audience there without using Facebook at all for example.

And the time you would have spent posting on Facebook can instead be used to engage with people — on your posts and in the replies to other people’s posts — on Instagram.

My Twitter following took off AFTER I basically stopped using other social platforms and focused my efforts there.

Hannah’s Question About Managing Direct Messages

I’m having a hard time managing my time around direct messages because there’s so many that come in. 

Everyone’s got a rhythm that they do and I haven’t been able to respond to DMs every day even — I do it once every other day, which is probably not the ideal rhythm.

I wonder how you navigate all the communications that come in?

My Response:

It depends a bit on what you’re doing with direct messages and how much time you have for them, but here are a couple things that may help.

First, if you get a lot of similar questions you can create a few templated answers that you can cut and paste (and tweak accordingly) as opposed to having to reinvent the wheel every time someone asks you the same question.

Second, you probably put too much pressure on yourself to answer every DM as quickly as possible. 

Personally, I try to answer everyone within at least a couple days and no one ever really complains if I don’t get back to them immediately.

You can even explain your DM policy in your bio or somewhere if you want to set expectations of when you will reply (so people don’t assume you’re immediately going to respond.)

The big thing is you shouldn’t feel pressure about it — you get to handle it or approach however you want and in whatever way works for you. 

You could even set a specific time — almost like Office Hours — and tell people you only reply to DMs during that time.

You get to approach it in whatever way works best for you!

Hannah’s Question About Selling On Instagram

I’ve been giving away a lot of my time for free — COVID is a major mental health crisis in this country and I’ve kind of been serving as a defacto therapist and spiritual mentor to a lot of people online and doing it for free.

It’s actually been consuming quite a few hours.

I know that some of those people that I’ve been mentoring are potential converts and I might be able to get them on board with some sort of program that I might start where I’m offering something a little bit longer term where I’m coaching people.

But I fear that if I say designed a little ad and put that out as an Instagram post that I would lose my audience. Is it out there for me to start doing that? Is it too soon? 

I guess that’s the question I would have — should I wait?

Is there a better way to do this?

My Response:

It’s so common for creators to worry how your audience will react to promotion of your paid services, but you have no reason to be concerned.

I wouldn’t promote your coaching in every single post, but there’s nothing wrong with promoting it occasionally and you should.

Think about it this way:

You’re offering to HELP people and provide them VALUE.

You have people who WANT to pay you for your help, but they don’t know how to do that unless you tell them about it.

Your audience knows you give away tons of value for free and they’re not going to be mad at you for offering an additional level of service for a fee.

You’re not forcing anyone to pay — you’re just offering people the opportunity to get more personal help from you for a fee if they want it.

If they don’t want it, they won’t complain, they’ll just ignore those posts.

If anything, letting your audience know you offer a paid service will only make your free service seem even MORE valuable.

On a side note: If anyone in your audience complains you’re offering a product/service then you don’t want them in your audience anyway.

Also, you may want to read my take on how to get over your fear of self-promotion and my six questions to help you monetize your audience.

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